Tomorrow, I say goodbye to another valued friend that I not only served with (sadly not while we were both in uniform) as a Soldier, but also as an Army Civilian.
Peace to his family and may he Rest In Peace, but his passing made me realize how blessed I am to have served my country both as a civilian and a Soldier.
I learned a lot about life and about myself in my 23 year Army career in uniform. I’ve learned a lot more now that I serve my country out of uniform.
There is an old cliche that freedom has a flavor for the protector that the protected will never taste, but what I miss more is the early morning runs singing cadence, no matter the weather, no matter how I felt physically starting out. Those cadences fed my soul and bonded me to my comrades. Bonds that lasted a lifetime.
Only through the service can you count people that worked for you and for whom you worked as lifelong friends years later.
Only Veterans understand Veterans.
Side note: yes, I know that words like “Veteran”, “Soldier”, and “Army” are not recognized as formal nouns in the English language unless tied to formal nouns like the “United States”, but this is protocol among Veterans. It’s done out of respect. A respect that is earned through blood, sweat, and tears.
I’m happy that our country honors its Veterans. It didn’t always honor Vets. The Vietnam Veteran knows this all too well.
That said, it is the life lessons I learned that make me proud to be a Veteran. Those lessons shaped me as a man and a citizen of our great nation. I appreciate my fellow citizens in a way I never would had I never served. I have memories that I will take with me to my dying day.
Rest In Peace, Dr. (LTC) Valentin Novikov. I’m proud to be your friend, to have you as a mentor, a leader, and a fellow Veteran.
We have the watch on your behalf, my old friend.
-The Rational Ram